Doug Martin

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NFL Pressure Cooker: In the pressure cooker, we take a look at a player who has a lot to prove in the 2015 season and what they need to do to relieve some of the pressure placed on them. The first subject: Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Doug Martin.

It’s no secret that Tampa Bay Buccaneers‘ running back Doug Martin is carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders this year. In the fourth and final year of his contract, Martin is facing two options: prove you can carry the ball consistently or find a new team. So what should we expect from the muscle hamster?

Well, that depends on how you view Martin. Some still see him as the breakout rookie phenom that shredded the Minnesota Vikings on national television or the Oakland Raiders in his signature performance.

Others see him as the guy who can’t break a tackle, can’t create running lanes for himself, consistently hesitates, and always ends up on the sidelines with an injury. So is this video any indication of the Doug Martin we will see in 2015?

I sincerely doubt it. And that isn’t to be negative towards Martin. I sincerely hope he proves me wrong and shows everyone in the NFL exactly what a healthy Doug Martin can do. The problem is, you can want and hope all day long, but that doesn’t mean Martin will transform in one off-season.

He is going to have stiff competition during training camp as he is no longer the run away favorite to be the number one back in the Bay.

Charles Sims is fully healthy, Bobby Rainey did a good job in the starting role in Martin’s absence, and Mike James is capable of doing what Dirk Koetter wants his running backs to do. Martin is going to have to earn this job and work harder than he has the previous three seasons to keep it.

It seems extremely likely that Martin will enter week one against the Tennessee Titans as the starting back, but that Sims will take over the position by mid-season, if not sooner.

Buccaneers fans love Doug Martin in the same way they love(d) Cadillac Williams.

Martin, just like Caddy, stole Buccaneers fans’ hearts as a rookie, then has severely under-performed since. Now, in Cadillac’s case, he tore his patellar tendon in his left knee after rupturing the patellar tendon in his right knee the season before.

These injuries should have ended his career, but instead he fought to get back. In doing so, Cadillac continued to have fans fall in love with him season after season and recently ranked 20th on a Buccaneers list of top 20 favorite players of all time as voted by the fans.

In Martin’s case, yes, he has suffered some injuries which has caused his production to decrease.

However, even when he is in the game and fully healthy, Martin just can’t seem to recreate that rookie magic he once had. In seventeen games since his rookie year, Martin has rushed the ball 261 times for 950 yards and three touchdowns. That’s 3.6 yards per carry.

Compare that to his rookie campaign, which was 319 rushes, 1,454 yards, 11 touchdowns, and 4.6 yards per carry. Those arethe numbers that are going to get Martin an extension in Tampa Bay. Period. They can’t waste anymore time waiting on Martin to “turn it around”.

The pressure is on, Doug. Either prove that you can carry this team and lead this rushing attack, or you’re going to find yourself out of a starting job in this league and be out of Tampa Bay altogether.

The franchise is counting on you. The coaches, your teammates, the fans…all of them. We all want to see that rookie phenom return and dominate like you once did. It’s now or never.

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